BY KATY SIMONIAN
“The service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” Muhammad Ali’s immortal words remind us of the beauty that shines from the heart of every volunteer and the far-reaching impact of public service for a community and the world.
The commitment to serving others has stood at the core of Homenetmen’s mission for generations, echoing the words, “Elevate Yourself and Others with You.” These words are more than a motto, as they capture the spirit of giving inherent in the fabric of the organization, with dedicated members instilling and embracing the values of kindness, hard work and humility in athletes and scouts for over a century.
Homenetmen’s many programs continue to thrive with the work of dedicated volunteers. The organization has grown with over 2,000 Armenian Scouts and more than 7,000 athletes who participate in activities all year.
These activities depend on the time and energy graciously shared by the many volunteers who not only make Homenetmen’s athletic and scouting events possible, but most significantly, build the collective morale of its membership. Their presence is particularly crucial during major athletic tournaments which kick-off in San Diego, followed by sporting events in Fresno and Orange County, culminating in Los Angeles at the annual Navasartian Games and Closing Ceremonies which will take place at Los Angeles City College on Fourth of July Weekend.
Parents, moms and dads alike, often drive for hours, across many miles to support their children’s athletic pursuits in sports from basketball, soccer, table tennis, and tennis, to swimming, gymnastics, karate, volleyball and chess.
One such parent is Aline Tchaghlassian, who beams with pride when reflecting on the many years she spent driving her three sons to games and cheering them on in the stands. When asked what makes Homenetmen so unique, she emphasized the noble nature of a community that elevates and inspires one another.
“The most meaningful way we can encourage our youth is by lifting their emotions. When our children learn to elevate the emotions of their friends and teammates, their skills naturally improve,” said Tchaghlassian. “Nothing is more impactful than kindness. It has been my great privilege to watch my children and so many families develop a deep sense of responsibility as Armenians, to carry on Homenetmen’s tradition of promoting good sportsmanship for all of our athletes,” she added.
It is fitting that Aline and her husband, Ara Tchaghlassian, will serve as the 45th Navasartian Honorary Presidents, taking their place in history among the many distinguished honorees who remain devoted to securing Homenetmen’s bright future. The couple will receive their honor at this year’s Victory Ball, which will take place on Sunday, June 26 at The Beverly Hilton, where generations of members will have an opportunity to salute the athletes, scouts, and volunteers whose hard work stands as an example for us all.
The multi-generational nature of the organization contributes to its warm landscape. It is not uncommon for three generations of members to serve side by side. “Many members have met their spouses while serving Homenetmen and their children, some of our youngest volunteers, carry on this beautiful legacy, participating in activities, tournaments and mentoring initiatives for their fellow athletes,” saaid Shant Haytayan, Vice Chair of the 45th Navasartian Victory Ball Committee. “Homenetmen represents the heart of the Armenian family — love, service and a celebration of our Armenian culture. We are so proud of our members and feel deeply grateful for their contributions to our community,” he added.
It is important to note the ways in which members are inspired by the spirit of volunteering, as many current leaders were once athletes and scouts who benefited from the guidance of those who came before them. These leaders are inspired to give back and to empower future generations to find their voices and make their mark on an organization that celebrates their accomplishments.
One such leader is Anita Derderian, a Regional Executive Board Member who has made history as the first woman to serve as Athletic Director of Homenetmen Western US. “For me, Homenetmen is family. It is incredible to know 90 percent of our volunteers are families, siblings, and children who want to make a difference, as they contribute to the success of our athletes and scouts,” she said. “We have endured many obstacles during the Covid-19 pandemic but one thing is certain — wherever I am in the world, Homenetmen remains a constant source of hope for all of our members.”
With a growing number of athletes and scouts, and a renewed commitment to expanding its efforts for public service, the future of Homenetmen is in the capable hands and hearts of its many loyal members.
For more information about the Navasartian Games, Closing Ceremonies and volunteering opportunities, please visit the Navasartian Games website or call (323) 344-4300.